The RV Project

"There Are No Wrong Roads to Anywhere"

The HP40 Way

Hey ya’ll! That’s right, we’re in the south now. ‘Bama. Steele, Alabama. Got lots to talk about but right now you need to be watching this little piece we put together about a crew of crazy crack climbers from Colorado. Underneath that, there’s a little piece I wrote about the climbing here in Horse Pens. Kinda blows Castle Rock, CA out of the water, but that’s not what this piece is about. It’s about humility. Enjoyment. Triumph and tragedy. And bouldering. Enjoy!

The Colorado Boys (RV Project Episode 3) from ByronWolter on

I fell into the trap.

At Hueco Tanks, the climbing is gymnastic. Straight-forward moves, steep terrain, rubber-smeared flakes and jibs and crimps and damn, if I could just crimp a little harder I would’ve cranked my first V-who-gives-a-shit.

Yes, I admit it. I started chasing “doable” problems at the upper end of my climbing ability for my own vanity. Going to “check out” this V-bla thing that “looks totally my style” became more important than it should, nearly surpassing as priorities making friends, making good film, and helping folks get psyched. Not flashing Chosspile #7 V5 was failure, damn the uninspiring nature of this knee-high lump of ironrock. Success only came on “cool” lines, or more accurately, the only cool lines were the ones I could do. Except Esperanza. That thing is as amazing as it is unreachable.

Artificial light and real climbing

It took a visit to Horse Pens 40 to snap me out of it. There was the (in)famous Bum Boy. V3. Well within flash territory. I was already dreaming up the text message to my buddy, somehow combining bragging and humility (“I was lucky enough to…”). Then I came face to face with the reality that I have no idea how to use beachball slopers on a hot day. This humbling came on the heels of a blow up among the RV Project members. The rift has been repaired, but at the time Horse Pens, bouldering, this whole stupid trip had started to seem like a terrible idea.

The Alabama version of simul-climbing

So daytime climbing was out, and we went night bouldering instead, with Sawyer and Blair, a couple of Real Southerners from Louisiana. We looked at God Module. Not a chance. Damn, there went my dreams of a dark horse send propelling me on to the cover of Rock and Ice on the wings of an Adidas sponsorship.

A funny thing started happening underneath Stretch Armstrong, though. A lantern and a couple of bright camera lights were shining on a few American 20-somethings who were lightly drinking and trying hard to do some insanely silly movements on a dead horizontal roof. All of a sudden, we all stopped caring about success, about bragging rights, about tick lists. The numbers didn’t matter, perceived difficulty didn’t matter. All that mattered was a battle against a chunk of stone. We attacked relentlessly. The stone responded with increasing apathy. Some of us succeeded. Nobody cared. Everyone laughed.

The author, trying hard and not caring all at the same time.

We’ve been out night bouldering most evenings, when the temps drop to the 50s. What felt like polished marble on day 1 now feels like medium sandpaper, and we’re learning to use non-positive foot placements too. Now we seek funky climbs and party tricks, not thuggish pulling and soft grades. Frankly, grades here make no sense except relative to each other. A V3 can feel like a V6 or a V1 depending on the conditions, but a V5 will certainly be harder than a V3 no matter what those conditions are.

We’ve learned for ourselves what the guidebook told us the climbing here is all about. Having fun, hanging out, trying hard, and not giving a damn, because at the end of the day, nobody else will give a damn either.


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15 thoughts on “The HP40 Way

  1. rich jackson on said:

    Not the kind of cracks i`d prefer but totally awsome

  2. Glad you liked it, Rich! It’s not our type of climbing either, but was extremely humbling to watch!

  3. McDrinkey on said:

    I give so many damns!

  4. victoriag13 on said:

    Haha, well I think you might be the first to give so many damns, Zack! We miss you always-positive attitude out here on the road. When are you coming to meet up with us again??

  5. Sawyer on said:

    Yo! Is chatty living up to the hype we gave it?!

    • victoriag13 on said:

      Hey Sawyer! How goes it? Missing HP40 yet? Chatty was pretty sweet. We’ll be typing up a full report in the next week, but we got 2 good climbing days there – Stone Fort one day and then the roof at Dayton Pocket another. Rad, rad, rad! You comin’ to the Red to meet us? We’ll be here for a few weeks…

      • Sawyer on said:

        Red as in? And I miss horse pens everyday! I still check the weather dreaming I was there..

      • I know, Horse Pens was amazing. Right now we’re at the Red River Gorge, which of course is totally different from HP40 because the climbs are really long, you don’t top out, and there are holds. Come meet us!

      • Sawyer on said:

        Where’s that at? And I thought y’all meat fountaine red in Arkansas, we’re going there weekend after this I think.

      • Kentucky. Not too terribly far from Horse Pens but quite a drive from LA. Let us know how Fountaine Red goes dude.

  6. skeedlebop on said:

    Rad post! Right one boys!

  7. victoriag13 on said:

    Who is this mysterious skeedlebop??

  8. Pingback: The People and the Bouldering of Horse Pens 40 | Rock Climbing | Cruxn

  9. Pingback: Getting Graphic | The RV Project

  10. Pingback: What Do Horse Pens 40 and The Force Have In Common? | The RV Project

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